Knowledge is the New Money
By Raymond Kimani
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler
Without increasing knowledge, you are limiting yourself to the successes you desire. If money is tight figure out a way to cut back on your expenses so you can afford to invest in yourself. If you absolutely hate reading subscribe to audible.com. Your first book is free when you sign up. If you can’t read 1 book per week then take things slow and try to read it in 2 weeks. Soon enough you will be able to grow that mental muscle and a book a week will be easy. Most importantly, apply the knowledge that you gain from reading and listening. It is one thing to read and listen; however, it is another to act and do the things that you are being taught. Be a doer not a talker.
The problem with most people today is that they seek money more than they seek knowledge. They spend so much time chasing money that they fail to realize knowledge is the new money. We should ask ourselves why do the world’s smartest and busiest people find one hour a day for deliberate learning, while others make excuses about how busy they are? What do they see that others don’t? The answer is simple, learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin.
Capital > Capital
Former President Barrack Obama, read an hour a day while in office. He said reading gave him the ability to occasionally slow down get perspective and the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes. Warren Buffet, invested 80% of his time reading and thinking throughout his career while Bill gates read a book a week and took a yearly two week reading vacation throughout his entire career. Today, knowledge makes you rich and a lack of knowledge makes you poor. In this brave new world, it’s your knowledge that is the new money. In a world where goods and services are becoming demonetized, knowledge is becoming increasingly valuable. This insight is fundamental to succeeding in our knowledge economy, yet few people realize it.
In the job market people who identify skills needed for future jobs e.g. Data analysts, Product designers, Physical therapists and quickly learn them are poised to win. Those who work hard at their careers but don’t take time to constantly learn will be the new “at risk” group. They risk remaining stuck on the bottom rung of global competition and they risk losing their jobs to automation. People at the bottom of the economic ladder are being squeezed more and compensated less, while those at the top have more opportunities and are paid more than ever before.
The irony is that the problem isn’t a lack of jobs, rather, it’s a lack of people with the right skills and knowledge to fill the jobs.
According to the Kenya Bureau of Statistics, the youth between 15 and 34 years, who form 35 per cent of the Kenyan population, have the highest unemployment rate at 67 per cent. Every beginning of the year, Kenyan parents are fraught with anxiety over the results of either Kenya Certificate of Primary Education or the Kenya Secondary Certificate of Education exams, because as a society we have used these to determine the careers of our children.
Over one million young people enter the labor market annually, some with formal education and some without. Kenya’s unemployment rate continues to soar whilst at the same time employers decry a lack of skills and the ever-increasing costs of importing labor for fields like mechanical and electrical engineering, manufacturing, oil and gas, among others. There’s a gap, and it can be exploited to realize our Social Development Goals as a country.
This gap is not unique to Kenya. In their publication, The Skills Gap in US Manufacturing, Audit firm Deloitte stated that nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled in the US from 2015 to 2025. However, the existing skills gap will result in approximately 2 million unfilled positions. China has also been reported to have struggling industries today due to a deficiency in skilled workforce.
In Kenya, it is all well and good to envision achieving economic stability through industrialization, but who will take over these jobs? Where is the skilled workforce to catapult us towards realizing a globally competitive business environment? There’s a critical need to address the narrow definitions of successful careers as a society. We must look at how we define education and its purpose in building our nation.
The Government should also pay close attention to promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education as a vital function of innovation and industrialization. We must invest in continually updating our knowledge of modern manufacturing jobs and strengthen research in this area. We have the answers to a sustainable future in our youthful population. Let us look at the ways in which we produce knowledge and beware not to stifle their creativity and innovation.
Similarly, as expressed in an Atlantic Article, “employers across industries and regions have complained for years about lack of skilled workers. In 2015 U.S employment data showed that over 17 million Americans are either unemployed, not working but interested in finding work, or doing part- time work but aspiring to full time.” This example lets us understand how at the fundamental level, knowledge is gradually becoming its own unique form of currency.
So, how do we learn the right knowledge and have it pay off for us? The points below as expressed by “Michael Simmons” serve as a framework to answer this question.
- Helping our youth identify knowledge at the right time.
The value of knowledge isn’t static, it changes as a function of how valuable other people consider it and how rare it is. As new technologies mature and reshape industries there is often a deficit of people with the needed skills, which creates the potential for high compensation.
- Communicating the value of your skills to others.
Often people with the same skills tend to command different salaries and fees based on how well they can communicate and persuade others. This ability to convince others that the skills you have are valuable is a “multiplier skill.” Many of our youth spend years mastering underlying technical skills and virtually no time mastering this multiplier skill.
- Learn how to financially invest in learning to get the highest return.
Each of us needs to find the right “portfolio” of books online courses, certificates/ degree programs to help us achieve our goals within our budget. We need to apply financial terms such as diversification, return on investment, hurdle rate – to our thinking on knowledge investment
- Master the skill of learning how to learn.
Our learning rate determines how quickly our knowledge compounds over time. Someone who reads and retains one book a week versus someone who takes 10 days to read a book, over the course of a year, a 30% difference compounds to the latter reading 85 more books.
In conclusion, just as we have a minimum recommended dosage of steps per day and minutes of aerobics exercise for maintaining physical health, we need to be rigorous about the minimum dose of deliberate learning that will maintain our economic health. The long-term effects of intellectual complacency are just as insidious as the long-term effects of not exercising or eating well.
Not learning at least 5 hours per week is the smoking and cancer effect of the 21st century!!